Time to get your finances in check

A woman putting money in a piggybank. See PA Feature FINANCE Household. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Household.
A woman putting money in a piggybank. See PA Feature FINANCE Household. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Household.

Now the school term is in full swing, some parents have a bit more time to themselves.

But don’t be too quick to sit down with that cup of tea, because now could be the perfect opportunity to catch up on some financial homework you’ve neglected over the summer months.

It may not sound like the most exciting way to spend those spare moments, but with Christmas rapidly approaching, it might well be handy to start saving some cash now.

Here are some suggestions from financial information website Moneyfacts.co.uk to get you going...

:: Switch your current account

A seven-day current account switching service was launched in 2013, making it easier for people to jump to another deal if they are not happy with their current provider.

All outgoing and incoming payments are automatically moved to the new account, so you don’t have to worry about missing bill payments or direct debits.

Charlotte Nelson, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says: “Many of us are loyal to our current account provider, even if they offer us nothing in return for our fidelity.

“However, now that the seven-day switching service is in operation, there’s no reason not to switch, particularly as there are many enticing offers out there.

“For instance, some accounts pay up to 5% in interest, albeit with some funding restrictions - a rate that easily beats the best savings accounts.”

:: Balance transfer deals

Your credit card may have taken a bashing over the expensive summer months, so if you’re unable to pay it off in full, it may be worth considering a balance transfer deal.

Nelson says there are several deals on the market with no balance transfer fees, meaning you can move your debt at no cost.

Bear in mind the balance must be repaid before the introductory deal ends to avoid adding interest to your bill.

:: Current account money transfer

Some people see their overdraft as a trusted old friend, helping them out in times of need. However, relying on it too often can soon make costs add up, not least because the average overdraft rate stands at an equivalent annual rate of 15.76%.

Nelson says: “A more cost-effective option could be to use your credit card to top-up your balance - a handful of credit cards allow customers to transfer funds straight into their bank account for a small fee. If this is done with an introductory offer, customers can benefit from even greater cost-effectiveness.”

For this to be a worthwhile solution, borrowers should pay off their credit card balance in full by the end of the deal.